Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

You can't fight the Borg

Richard Borg, that is. Following on from my last post, featuring the Borg board game Memoir '44, it turns out that this game I was definitely not going to buy (and on which point I essayed argument), has shown up secondhand. 

I couldn't stop myself.  

I now find myself wondering whether I need to get some expansions, and if so, which ones. Such is the gaming life.

In other, more miniatures-gamery news, I had to make another quick trip to Japan late last week to bring the kids back as a family situation has meant that my wife has had to stay on longer than we expected. On the last evening (of three) there I popped into a local hardware store and found, for about $2.30, wire enough to fit out a dozen pike armies. The beauty of this stuff is that it's stainless, cheap, and dead straight. 35cm sections, with one bend in each. A person of wargamery inclination can get seven to ten pikes per section. This lot should see me right for the rest of my (un)natural life!

I also snuck into the suitcase a few other bits and pieces I'd not previously had room to bring back. 1/72 Zvezda Samurai (could be used for another Borg-inspired project?), some WWII books, and not yet in my suitcase but will be in my darling wife's when she returns, a giant stash of my absolute favourite guitar picks, which can only be found in one shop, and then only if you are lucky. 

Not ideal circumstances, but sometimes you can still get your pikes and picks.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

December WWII gaming

Before Christmas I was lucky enough to be able to head over to Japan with the family for a short trip to catch up with some people and spend a bit of time back in the old haunts.  We had various trips planned and things to do, but as fate would have it two of the young ones (not so young really, given they are now sixteen and fourteen!)* caught influenza which kept as mostly housebound for about half of the time I was over there (the family is staying over there a bit longer). 

Still, I managed to catch up with some old friends in our old town, one of whom has become quite a collector of games. One of his favourites is Memoir '44. I asked if he had anything he wanted to play, and this was what he was most keen on. At the age of 49, therefore, I got to play my first games of Memoir '44.

Memoir is not a series that I had ever been particularly interested in. It looked like toys in a box, the tanks are out of scale to the figures, and I played Commands & Colors: Ancients. 

There did not seem any need.

Well, what do I know. It turns out it was great fun. Trust Richard Borg!

Ben quickly ran me through the rules. Of course, the mechanics were familiar from C&C:A, but the tweaks oozed class and induced that nodding satisfaction that comes when you encounter something, know where it came from, and can see how it has built upon earlier iterations.

We played a desert scenario called Sbeitla, Tunisia, which was part of preprinted pack, saving the need to set up the terrain on the map. 

I played as the attacking Germans first up. The tactical position was interesting. The field was dominated by strongly positioned US artillery in the centre, a forward left flank of infantry and armour, and a refused infantry-heavy right flank with anti-tank capability. 

To face this I had a centre of infantry complemented by mixed infantry and armour on the flanks, with my left, bolstered by a veteran (four tanks rather than three) unit, stronger than my right.

Five banners were needed to win, which could be achieved by occupying key positions and/or eliminating enemy units. 

My main concern initially was the artillery, and early moves were focused on neutralising it. While working to this end I was hit by a couple of devastating special cards which destroyed one of my infantry units immediately. Gradually however my armour got into advantageous positions that, in combination with good cards, created opportunies to take enemy units in a crossfire and threaten the terrain objectives. 

Mid-game from the German side. Three banners scored each, but with some excellent opportunites for German armour... 

As it happened, the Germans were able to squeeze out a win by hunting down the vulnerable infantry on the US right. 

We switched sides and played again. In this game the Germans took an early lead and appeared to have the game for the taking, but a US fight back with a special armour assault card combined with lucky dice allowed the double-whammy of destroying units and taking objectives to snatch a victory. 

Game two in progress, from the perspective of the US.

I was impressed enough by Memoir to research its availability in New Zealand.  The boy though is not interested in wargames at this stage. If he were, it would be a great option. But the fact that he would rather do other things and that the subject of the original game is Normandy, which I already have plenty of gaming options for, means that I will likely hold off. Unless of course I find a secondhand copy going, or just change my mind!

When I got back home just after Christmas I took advantage of the 'bachelor life' to get in a game of Undaunted Normandy with SP, just before he took off to go on a cruise with family.

As always, it provided a good game with numerous tactical challenges. I forget which scenario we played, but it was one from the base game that we'd enjoyed first time round. Playing as the US I had a corner position on a hill trying to take objectives in the middle of the battlefield, but with not much cover around. SP as the Germans played an excellent game, presenting multiple threats that forced me to respond. While attempting to prevent my troops being massacred I worked on setting up a machine gun fire base to first neutralise his mortar and then dominate the centre. In doing so I was distracted from what I needed to do to win, which was take ground. SP gave me too much to do and while I was stuck in a reactive cycle he advanced into jump off points. I tried to respond in kind, but it was a little too late. He punished my infantry as they tried to contest the centre, took the objectives from his forward positions and won in handsome style. 

The field at game end.

And they've done it!

It really is a fantastic game, and such a good option to pull out on a week night. Plays fast, is engaging all the way through, and you can have a couple of beers and a yarn beforehand and still have time to get through a game or two.

Anyway, happy new year to you all, and hope it's a good year for everyone. 

*Where did those years go?!

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